When it comes to safety, your brake system is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Pressing on the brake pedal will cause your brake pads to squeeze the brake rotor and create friction. This friction is what slows the vehicle and why brakes pads are an important replacement part to keep your car safe.
Don't forget to replace your brake rotors and inspect items like brake calipers and rotors when installing new brake pads.
What's the difference between brake shoes and brake pads?
Brake shoes are curved metal blocks that are used with older drum brake systems. When the brakes are applied, the shoes press against the inner lining of the drum, creating friction. The friction causes the drums to slow, slowing the vehicle. Brake shoes are not as efficient as brake pads, but they are still used on some vehicles because they are inexpensive and they work well on rear brakes.
Brake pads are flat metal plates with a thick friction layer on one side. They are used with the disc brake systems that come with most newer cars. When the brakes are applied, hydraulic pressure is applied to the pads, causing them to squeeze the brake rotors, which stops the vehicle. Brake pads cool more efficiently than brake shoes, and they also work better in wet weather.
How long do brake pads last?
How long your brake pads last depends on what types of pads and rotors you have as well as your driving style. On average, brake pads tend to last about 50,000 miles, ranging from 30,000 miles on the low end to 70,000 miles on the high end. For most drivers, this comes out to almost four years. Some drivers may need to replace their pads after three years, while others may find their pads last over six years. Brake rotors may last two or three times as long as brake pads.
What causes brake pads to wear out?
The friction applied to brake pads gradually wears them down until they become thin. This erosion process can be accelerated by a number of factors, including the type of material your front and rear brake pads are made from, how often you drive on hills, how frequently you brake, how sharply you brake, and how tightly your wheel lugs are screwed. Once pads are too thin to use, your car becomes dangerous to drive. If you continue driving your vehicle in this condition, eventually your front and rear brake rotors can become uneven and warped over time, which will require you to replace your entire braking assembly instead of just your pads.
Buy replacement brake pads online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgeable Team Members help you. Brake repair has never been so easy!
There are several indicators that can let you know to check your brake pads to see if they need replacement:
There are several major types of brake pads that have come into use since asbestos pads were replaced:
Non-asbestos organic The first alternative to asbestos pads was pads made of organic materials such as carbon, rubber and glass. These have the advantage of being cheap and quiet, but they overheat easily and wear out quickly, as well as causing your pedal to feel squishy.
Semi-metallic These pads have metals such as iron, steel, and copper incorporated into their friction material. They can handle heat better than organic pads, provide a firmer feel, give better performance and are relatively inexpensive, but they also require a break-in period, generate brake dust, and are noisy.
Low-metallic non-asbestos organic (NAO)
These combine organic material with a small amount of metal mixed in. They can tolerate heat better than purely organic pads and deliver better performance, but also generate brake dust and noise.
These pads can endure heat, making them long-lasting plus they generate less brake dust and noise. Their main drawback is being expensive. They also can be noisy when cold.
Replacing brake pads is a relatively easy process that takes approximately one to two hours per axle. It involves removing the lug nuts, wheels, caliper fasteners, and calipers in order to remove and replace the pads. See the Advance Auto Parts blog for step-by-step instructions on how to install brake pads and brake shoes. Be sure to follow these best practices when changing pads:
When it comes to choosing between metallic and ceramic pads, it's best to replace your pads with the same type your manufacturer originally installed. Don't upgrade pads without checking with your manufacturer. As far as picking brake pad brands, choose a brand whose standard pads perform well in tests. All 4 brake pads should be replaced at once to keep wear even throughout the vehicle.
Are there any preventive steps I can take to extend the life of my brake pads?
There are several things you can do to make your brake pads last longer:
How much will it cost to replace my brake pads?
Brake pads themselves can cost anywhere from $10 to $100. Getting your brake pads replaced averages about $150 per axle, with costs ranging from $100 to $300 per axle. If you need to replace other parts such as calipers and rotors, a complete brake job averages $500, with costs ranging from $300 to $1,000.
Should I replace my brake pads myself?
You can do a brake pad replacement yourself if you have mechanical experience. If you are inexperienced, it's best to have a professional change your brake pads.
Should I get my rotors turned when I replace my brake pads?
The best practice is to get your rotors turned whenever you replace your brake pads. This will optimize your pad wear and braking performance without costing you the expense of new rotors. However, it also shortens the lifespan of your rotors and makes them more susceptible to overheating and brake fade, so be aware of the tradeoff. Brake pads typically have a service life of about 40K - 50K miles. With wear that's slow and gradual, it can be tough to know when they're really starting to wear down to a point of needing replacement.
Some trouble signs include:
Longer stopping distances
Longer brake pedal travel
Brakes feel soft or spongy underfoot
One or more wheels tends to lock up and skid while braking
Strong pulsing or vibration through brake pedal while braking
Vehicle pulls to one side or is hard to control while braking
Squealing, groaning, or metallic grinding while braking
Of these, the grinding noise is by far the worst and most dangerous.It means that your brake pads have worn to a point where ther's no friction material left, and the pads backing plates are in contact with the rotors(destroying them in the process). It's a good idea to have your brake pads checked once a quarter and have them replaced if the pads have less than 1/4' of friction material left on them.